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A River that Built Community

Posted on July 24, 2018
By Heather Keam

River photo BlogIn June, I attended an event in St. Albert called the Neighbourhood Extravaganza which brought together those who work in neighbourhoods, to build neighbourhoods. It was an excellent way to share stories and learn from each other. During my stay, I experienced the greatest sense of community when I was welcomed into the home of Howard Lawrence from Abundant Community Edmonton. It was from Howard’s hospitality that I learned how the North Saskatchewan River built a community.

The river is beautiful, winding through Edmonton, and brings much pleasure to residents who enjoy water activities. During the construction of the new Tawatina LRT bridge, a big sandy beach formed and was called Accidental Beach.

Residents were excited as it brought people to the river in a new and exciting way. Also, on this river was a riverboat that had sat in the water and began rusting away; it became an eye sore to the community. It took one great idea and a lot of hard work to turn this boat into a unique experience for the community. It will be used for meetings, dining and community events.

Change is something that most of us try hard to avoid out of fear of what might happen. What if we think of change as a way to potential? What if we ask ourselves what great things would come from change instead of what might go wrong? What if we started a community garden? What if we knock on our neighbour’s door and ask them to coffee? Great things could happen!

Neighbour Photo

All it takes is one person, one change, one great idea to build something awesome in your neighbourhood. Here are some of the great ideas that I heard from the Neighbourhood Extravaganza event:

St. Albert Neighbourhood Plate -The idea is for one person to fill a plate and gift it to a neighbour. Then they fill another plate and pass it on to another neighbour and so on.

St. Albert Tool Library - Two wives were discussing how their husbands have so many tools they purchased. Tools that were taking over their garages so they had a great idea - rather than buying and accumulating tools - neighbours can come together and share tools, because, often the same tools are purchased in every household. 

Good Neighbour Coffee - There are many stories about meeting our neighbour for the first time, or amazing community stories. The Good Neighbour Coffee puts these stories onto the bags of their coffee. Here is your chance to tell your Good Neighbour Story!

So, the next time you hear about change in your neighbourhood think about the potential, the great things that change can bring. Who knows, you might accidentally create “a beach” in your neighbourhood. To read and learn about what others are doing in their neighbourhoods sign up for our bi-monthly Neighbours Journal.

Community Development, Heather Keam, Cities Deepening Community

Heather Keam

By Heather Keam

Heather is happy to be part of the Vibrant Communities team as the Manager of Cities, Cities Deepening Community. Before this position she was the Manager of Learning Services where she organized Community of Practices, learning opportunities, tools and resources for community change. Heather brings over 12 years of public health knowledge to this position.

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